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9 trailblazing female explorers

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 24, 2016, 12:17 p.m.
Harriet Chalmers Adams

Photo: Library of Congress/Public domain

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Harriet Chalmers Adams (1875-1937)

Although Harriet Chalmers Adams, a no-compromise American adventurer of the highest order, has faded into relative obscurity, she was a force of nature back in her day.

A longtime correspondent and photographer for National Geographic magazine and the founding president of the Society of Woman Geographers, Adams was essentially your wanderlust-stricken Great Aunt Enid — the one with the never-ending slideshows and well-worn passport — on steroids. Shortly into her marriage to Franklin Adams, the California-born explorer and her husband embarked on a 40,000 mile, three-year adventure across South America, a trip that included traversing the Andes on horseback and canoeing down the Amazon River.

Future travels found Adams exploring Haiti, Turkey, the South Pacific, Siberia and France where, as a wartime correspondent for Harper’s magazine, she was the only American female journalist permitted to enter the trenches during WWI. Throughout Adams’ tenure with National Geographic, many readers were shocked to find that some of the magazine’s most perilous reports and astonishing photographs were the work of a woman.